How do you tell the difference between dehydrated and dry skin?

Apply moisturiser to skin that feels dry and irritable. If it feels better instantly, it's dehydrated. Dry skin will continue to feel thirsty. Chronically dry skin isn't actually about lack or moisture but rather a deficiency that means the outer layers of your skin can't maintain normal moisture levels.

The main cause is sun damage, and keeping damaged skin soft and supple comes down to avoiding products containing potential irritants (alcohol, menthol, peppermint, citrus and fragrance, for example); hot baths; soap (in bar form); abrasive scrubs; and constant exposure to air conditioners and heaters. Good moisturisers (think: quality antioxidants and potent anti-inflammatories), gentle cleansers and the daily use of sunscreen will also help.

3 dry skin saviours

1. Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Rich Cream ($90)


is a great option for very dry skin. Mousse-like. No oily feel.

2. Kiehl's Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm ($54). I've been trialling this and love it. It is very rich and a tiny bit greasy (as you might expect of an uber hydrator), but it absorbs quickly and leaves dry skin feeling and looking much better.

3. The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector ($27). Hemp and beeswax are the heroes of this ultra-rich treat for very dry hands. Apply at night and leave to soak in (preferably under gloves) while you sleep.

Canvas loves

From a zesty lime green to a delicate lavender, the 12 shades in Faby Nails' new "I'm Faby" collection ($20 each) are exactly that - fresh, hip and summery. I'm So Cool; A Kiss from Beirut; The Fifth Ace; Un Mojito Por Favor; Ciao Bella.

Beauty basic: Are natural products better?

Not better, just different. To "paraben" or not has become a bit of a lifestyle choice. But if your skin reacts quickly to new products, it makes sense to avoid ingredients such as synthetic dyes and fragrances and to use sun blocks containing zinc or titanium dioxide. Try Coola's Cucumber Mineral Sunscreen SPF30 ($55), a broad-spectrum organic protector that also soothes and moisturises.

Read the label: charcoal

Why look for it:

The ingredient of the moment, activated charcoal is now included in cleansers, face masks, acne scrubs, primers and pore-minimisers.

How it works: Well regarded as a skin purifier or cleanser, it's very absorbent and can act like a kind of magnet to attract and draw up dirt and oil.

Where to find it: Sukin Oil Balancing Purifying Gel Cleanser ($14), Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque ($89), and Blaq Charcoal Blackhead Mask ($30).